The evening of February 17 will remain etched in the memories of Williams and Karthik, class X students at Advent Christian Conference High School in Velachery. Their dream of playing football in school was fulfilled.
One World Futbol Project (OWFP) and Slum Soccer, in association with The Hindu and Nethaji Football Club, kickstarted Chennai’s campaign of distribution of footballs among school children to promote the world’s most popular game at the grassroots level in the city.
Interestingly, the balls aren’t ordinary footballs but are pieces crafted out of specialised foam which don’t deflate and, hence, are virtually indestructible. Conceptualised by Tim Jahnigen of OWFP and funded by musician Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner, world renowned as Sting, the football is named ‘One World’ after a song.
The students of the Velachery school were the lucky lot from the city to receive the first set of One Worlds.
Speaking to the students, British deputy high commissioner Bharat Joshi said sport had the power not just to entertain but also to change lives. “These footballs will unite and bring out the best in you and I hope many of you will become professional footballers,” said Mr. Joshi.
The campaign aims at distributing 22,000 balls to children throughout India with support from various sports organisations. In Chennai, more schools with underprivileged children will be covered under the initiative.
Nethaji Football Club president Rohit Ramesh said the distribution of footballs would help develop the sport among children.
Asia director of OWFP, Steven Sonderman, Coaches Across Continents representative Brian Suskiewicz and Slum Soccer CEO Abhijeet Barse were present at the event on Monday.